Aiken County selected to participate in “Robots4Autism” pilot program

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Robots are the future of specialized education for Autistic students in Aiken County.

“My name is Milo. I am from Robokind and I am the next generation of therapy for students with Autism.”

Education in Aiken County is getting robotic.

The district was selected by the state Department of Education to participate in “Robots4Autism.”

The program has proven successful in developing the social, behavioral and communication skills of Autistic students.

Milo engages students through interactive lessons on a tablet.

“So when we are actually working with the child, we are going to have one iPad for the child and one iPad for the facilitator,” said Aiken County Board of Education Autism Program Specialist Ali Safa. “There’s always going to be an adult in the room.”

The robot can reinforce instruction through its wide-range of abilities, including walking, showing emotion and speaking.

Safa is leading the pilot program in Aiken.

She says the robot is designed to be patient with students and teaches them calming techniques.

“If the child starts to get agitated or frustrated there sensors inside the robot that will activate the calming scenarios.” Safa told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

The humanoid is constantly updated with information directly from the developer.

It also collects data and tracks the progress of a student, so lessons can be specialized.

While, the robot is specifically programmed to teach appropriate social behaviors, it can also give lessons in math or science.

The price tag on the robot is upwards of $18,000 dollars, but Safa says you can’t put a number on the reward of seeing a child succeed.

“I think it’s worth a try, you never know.” She said. “If everything we’ve been doing up until now hasn’t worked, why not try something different?”

The South Carolina Department of Education is funding the pilot program, so it’s not costing the district anything to try it out.

Milo is set to start working with students by the end of October.

To learn more about “Robots4Autism” click here. 

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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